Holding all questions to the end…

“My name is Sergeant Spisso, welcome to your operations order brief. Take out your pens, pencils, notebooks, Ranger Handbooks, and hold all questions to the end.”

This is common before delivering any military style briefing, and the way I was taught as a young Army Ranger to give a brief. I’ve kept this as a foundation throughout my career and we teach this in our communication class to corporate clients (www.eliteleadershiptraining.com).

Holding all questions to the end…it’s not just meant for an organized military briefing, but also in something as simple as a phone call or face to face conversation. It does not always have to be said, holding all questions to the end is an “implied task.”

Simply by listening you have a good chance that your question will get answered somewhere in the briefing. Our minds race when working on a project, we want tot jump in and ask a question which is pertinent to our part of the project. The fact is, the question we want answered will probably get answered by being patient and taking notes (two things we are often not good at!). We all have those team mates that jump in with questions five minutes into a brief; questions that will most likely be answered by listening!

If you are the sender and running a meeting or giving a briefing, don’t assume everyone comes prepared or understands the rules of engagement. How many times do you have people coming to meetings with nothing to write on? They sit there, play on their smart phones, and haphazardly pay attention as if you are subjecting them to shock therapy. Do they really think they can memorize everything that comes out of a meeting?

My sister has a photographic memory and still takes notes! Prepare your meeting or presentation by having a handout with a short summary of your briefing/project and highlight all the key points. People don’t come prepared, so your prepare them! This way when there are questions, you can revert back to your simple handout (DO NOT OVER COMPLICATE THIS DOCUMENT- use the KISS method, Keep it Simple & Stupid).

If you are the receiver in a meeting, come prepared. Ask if there is a read-ahead so you can list any of your potential questions (who, what, where, when & why) and as they are being answered in the briefing you can check them off.

Regardless of the meeting intent, you should leave with a minimum direction & distance. Sender you should make this point clearly; receiver its your responsibility to understand where its going. There will be work to do and there will be more questions to follow (called RFI’s – request for information). But a solid brief with take away handouts will lessen the RFI’s that will be filling your inbox.

“Hi, my name is JB Spisso, this meeting is to cover our marketing objectives for next quarter. Please take a meeting handout provided for you, take copious notes, place your phones/PDA’s on silent and stow them until the end of this briefing; finally hold all questions to the end.”


Performance Coach & Lead Consultant
Elite Leadership Training LLC



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